If you’re in the process of sourcing premises for your business, you may wish to consider the benefits of a smart building. Not only do these Internet of Things connected premises present an array of advantages for building owners and employers, but they also provide an optimised workspace for staff; good news for employers when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent.
Here we look at some of the key reasons why so many business owners are refining their commercial property searches to include smart technology and what you can expect to gain from setting up your company in a smart building.
A ‘smart building’?
It’s all about automation and connected data. Every building churns out masses of data from all angles, from its building management system to its emergency, security and access platforms; from its utility meters and air quality sensors to external weather monitors. The trouble with this data is that it’s not connected. So it takes a great deal of human intervention to do anything valuable with it.
That’s where a smart building comes into play. Smart building technology interconnects everything through Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors, funnelling all the data from all the individual outputs into a single platform, allowing it to be studied in detail.
And then it gets even more interesting. Because when this data is run through a smart building analytics system, it is possible to see how one factor affects another, bringing to light priceless intelligence that has the power to reduce costs, cut energy waste, streamline processes and make the workplace a better place.
Why does today’s workforce want to work in a smart building?
There are many good reasons why today’s workforce is being enticed by the benefits of a smart building.
Better working environment
Well-being has become such an important part of our lives over the past two years, so it is no wonder people are prioritising a healthy workspace when seeking employment.
A healthy building is therefore vital. This means a building with good indoor air quality; with plenty of natural light; free from moisture or mould; low noise pollution; consistent thermal conditions; good levels of ventilation and water quality, and adequate safety and security measures.
In its How to Deliver Healthy Buildings guide, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) states that a ‘healthy, happy workforce is a vital component of a productive, successful business in the long term.’
It also says that there is significant evidence to show that the way an office is designed influences occupants’ health, well-being and productivity, saying: ‘There is now a clear difference between working environments that are simply not harmful, and those that positively encourage health and well-being, and stimulate productivity.’
More control over workplace conditions and comfort
When staff are able to control their own personal workspaces, as well as feel more comfortable, they get more of a sense of being valued.
Smart lighting, for example, is a fundamental element of a healthy building. Good lighting quality at work has been proven by swathes of research to positively impact productivity, well-being and comfort.
Worker-controlled lighting, and lighting solutions tailored to individual needs, have considerable potential to boost work satisfaction levels. All of this is made possible by smart building technology.
As well as the ability to identify optimum lighting settings and adjust the tone and type of lighting in response to changing external factors, smart lighting can also alter the lighting in a personal workspace. This means that individuals can use their smartphones to create bespoke lighting conditions to suit their preferences and varying tasks.
Smart HVAC is another element of a healthy building. When used alongside a building management system, it has the power to optimise personal workspace comfort, as well as reduce energy waste.
Via a network of noise and motion detectors, humidity sensors, thermometers, location indications and online weather data, valuable information is fed into a platform that’s powered by artificial intelligence (AI). The AI, in turn, makes automated changes to a building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to ensure the best possible comfort and safety levels for every occupant.
One of the best things about smart HVAC is that it learns from user input. Staff are encouraged to add their preferences, which are then considered when making future alterations. Individuals can also tailor their own personal climate to suit their preferences, the task at hand, and the current weather conditions.
Ticks the environmental, social and governance box
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) is becoming increasingly important to individuals looking at a career change. As they consider the values and working practices of a potential employer, people are thinking more about the social standing of the organisation, as well as how it approaches health and well-being.
Social factors, in particular, have become a great deal more important, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, where there is now a widespread need for property owners to consider the impact of their buildings on the people who use them.
In a smart building, with user-controlled comfort playing an integral role, employee health and well-being can be precision managed. The data produced by smart building technology also provides the ideal opportunity to collate powerful data capable of steering change towards an enhanced working environment, ticking even more ESG boxes.
Allows for activity based and flexible working
It is probably considered more unusual now, on this side of the pandemic, to find staff that are prepared to spend a full working week in the office or tied to a static desk. Many are looking for flexibility; for a hybrid approach to working, and are seeking to embrace activity-based working. People want to work where and when they want and have already proved that they can get the job done, wherever they are working.
Automated desk and meeting room booking systems are a core feature of the smart building. With the whole process of booking a room or a zone automated and streamlined, staff don’t have to shoulder the burden of cumbersome manual space management systems or clashes over double bookings.
Smart office management systems show users what spaces are free, what features they have and whether they are cleaned and ready for use.
Why should employers consider a move to a smart building?
Aside from the obvious benefits to the workforce, which has a knock-on effect in terms of attracting and retaining talent and boosting competitive edge in the process, and of course, to productivity, there are various advantages to the employer of setting up in a smart building.
Smart technology has the power to reduce a building’s energy consumption significantly.
In a smart building, it is possible to continuously monitor energy and utility consumption in real-time. Live, highly accurate, and very detailed data, fed in from every zone of the building, combine to show how energy is being used and how various factors can influence consumption. It allows energy usage to be optimised to reduce waste, lowering bills and, crucially, reducing environmental impact and carbon footprint in the process.
A system of sensors throughout the smart building ensures energy wastage becomes a thing of the past, leading to considerable potential savings.
Lights, heating or air conditioning automatically switch off when a room is unoccupied, or adjust in response to changing external conditions, so that utilities are only used when necessary.
What’s more, by keeping track of data produced by electrical and mechanical equipment, it is possible to streamline servicing and maintenance programmes. So, for example, instead of replacing air conditioning filters each month as standard, they are only replaced when it is indicated that a change is necessary.
The same goes for servicing and maintenance. In place of making it timetable based when it may not actually be necessary to call in an engineer, it centres on a requirement, where a sensor has indicated that a piece of equipment may soon be in need of attention.
In a smart building, vital assets are continuously monitored in real-time. Sensors that keep track of temperature and vibration, for example, can relay data to show how well an item is functioning.
Where functionality falls below the standard, an alert is raised to summon an engineer well before any major issue has rendered the machinery un-operational and potentially losing revenue as a result.
How to transform your building into a smart building
Imagine potential new employees weighing up job offers from an employer whose business is located in a traditional building, compared to one where they’d be working in and reaping all the benefits of a smart building. If you are looking to source and retain the best talent and enhance your organisation’s competitive edge, it really does make sense to go smart.
If you are currently sourcing premises and can’t see that they are smart-ready, there is a way to transform them retrospectively so that you can enjoy all the benefits that smart technology offers.
Smart Spaces is an app-based Internet of Things powered platform. It has the ability to plug into a traditional building management system, transforming the premises into a smart building and providing everyone from building and facilities managers to employers and employees the degree of control they need to make a considerable difference in so many ways.
Why not request a free Smart Spaces demo, or get in touch to discover how this pioneering technology can make your building the best possible place to work?